If the previous meeting this season is any way of anticipating what might happen at 8:15 tonight at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, the Class 5 girls sectional matchup between Truman and Lee’s Summit West could be a thriller.
In the first round of the Truman Tournament back in January, coach Steve Cassity’s girls led 23-22 at halftime, trailed by seven in the fourth quarter and rallied for a 41-39 victory.
“That game was a barn-burner, and Wednesday night’s game should be, too,” said Cassity, whose 15-12 Patriots meet the 19-6 Titans in a game that will be broadcast live on KCWJ (1030 AM). “Lee’s Summit West is a very good team, an athletic team and a well-coached team. They have a good transition game, and that is something we have to take care of. We can’t let them score easy baskets off our turnovers or missed shots.”
Cassity said his team is playing its best basketball of the season. They have won four in a row and six of their last seven.
“To be honest with you, having a team play its best basketball at this time of the season doesn’t happen that often,” said Cassity, who earned his 400th career coaching victory Saturday in Truman’s 47-32 rout of top-seeded Blue Springs South in the district championship. “No coach wants his team playing its best basketball in January. We were playing some pretty good ball back in January, but the girls have taken it up a notch since then.
“We’ve worked on some things, tweaked some things, but it’s really been an improvement that has just happened. It’s been organic, it’s not something we have addressed. They’re just doing the little things – and the big things – that help you win big games.”
Deon Monroe has taken her game to a new level, as the 5-foot-4 junior has dominated at both guard and in the post.
“Last year she was our guard, and this year, she still brings the ball down the court a lot, but we use her in the paint because she is so strong,” Cassity explained. “She is tough matchup because if someone quick is guarding her, Deon is usually quicker; and if a bigger player is on her, she will go right past them to the hoop.”
South’s Saneea Bevley, an outstanding freshman who spent much of the semifinal game guarding Monroe, agreed.
“She is a tough matchup for any team,” Bevley said. “How many times have you seen a post player bring the ball down the court? And when she gets it inside, she is so strong that she just takes it to the hole.”
Monroe agreed with her coach that the Patriots are playing their best ball when it counts the most.
“That’s something we have strived for all season,” said Monroe, who led the Patriots with 13 points in the mid-season victory against West and scored 18 in the championship win over the Jaguars.
“Coach Cassity has stressed how important it is to play as a team. I’m 5-4, but I like to think I play like I’m 6-4. We all know our roles, and we have been playing really well the last few weeks.
“We’re confident and ready to go Wednesday night.”